SEO – Why Bother?
SEO website design can be a daunting task. Search engine optimisation is a critical component in guaranteeing the success of any website. After all, what’s the point in having a beautiful, delicately crafted website with a great user experience if no one can actually find it?
The term “SEO” has grown to become so all-encompassing that it can become very difficult to prioritise tasks effectively. Do I focus on site speed first? or title tags? What is Google really looking for in a website?
All of these questions are totally reasonable, but once you know your priorities, you’ll quickly find you stop asking them.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the handiest tidbits of information you should know going in to 2020. After all, SEO is a constantly evolving field, what worked 5 years ago doesn’t necessarily work now.
What works now may not be ideal in 5 years time either, but the key to staying on top is to stay dynamic in your approach. Without further adieu, here’s my top 7 killer SEO tips.
Tip 1 – Site Speed
Site speed is absolutely critical when it comes SEO website design. A slow site kills your ability to rank for modern search engines. Not only do they care about site speed – they seriously care about mobile site speed. Over 80% of users interacting with your website are likely to be using a mobile device. Many modern websites have mountains upon mountains of unused/useless code slowing them down.
On top of useless code, other issues can plague your website too. Unnecessarily large images which could easily be compressed are another key cause of slowdown.
If you’re operating on wordpress, it’s very tempting to fix effectively any problem you encounter (SSL issues etc) with a plugin. This can be useful if you’re in a rush and want to get the ball rolling, but an abundance of useless plugins can begin to cause serious site speed issues further down the line. Especially as new updates roll in and staying up-to-date becomes a bit trickier.
Site speed doesn’t just negatively affect your SEO either. Potential customers can be put off by slower website speeds and less likely to make a purchase. Slow site speeds will also contribute to your “bounce rate” – the number of visitors who quickly leave your website after first attempting to access it.
Tip 2 – Mobile Optimisation
As I mentioned before, a good 80% of the users interacting with your site are likely to be mobile users. This means that Google is a big fan of mobile optimisation.
They wouldn’t be a very effective search engine if they consistently sent iPhone users to websites that can’t be properly accessed from a mobile device. When you’re building your website, mobile optimisation should be a forethought, rather than an afterthought.
Sites that perform poorly on mobile are textbook level examples of poor SEO website design.
Mobile optimisation doesn’t start and end with mobile speed either. Your websites appearance on mobile browsers is a massive factor. Ideally your website should be responsive enough that it fits easily onto a mobile screen. Mobile users should only have to scroll vertically, not horizontally.
Google chrome has added the option to simulate mobile devices with their developer tools. It even lets you pick a specific type of mobile device from a list. This will enable you to ensure that your website looks great on various models of iPhones & Androids.
You can even simulate 3G and 4G connections, network throttling and a whole variety of other factors which affect mobile browsing. If you’re interested in learning the fundamentals of this you can check out Google’s official developer guide right here. This will walk you through the basics of utilising chrome’s dev tools to guarantee a great mobile user experience on your website.
Tip 3 – Ensure You’re Only Being Linked To By Healthy Websites
Using the term “healthy” to describe a domain probably doesn’t make the most sense. But it’s the most appropriate word I can think of when it comes to categorizing how positively or negatively a link from a website is going to affect your ability to rank.
Search engines are pretty smart in how they categorize websites. They’re capable of judging roughly what niche a website belongs to. As such they can judge how appropriate it is for a particular website to be linking to you.
For example, let’s say you run a website in the cooking niche. It wouldn’t be beyond the scope of reason for english speaking cooking blogs, baking blogs and other food related websites to drop you a link. However, if your backlink profile was composed entirely of links from russian gambling website… this may begin to negatively affect your rankings.
After using any number of free resources to check out the backlink profile of your website, you’ll have a rough idea of what needs to be done. There’s two strategies you can implement to ensure your website has a healthy backlink profile.
Taking care of bad links: If you’re confident a link isn’t going to do you any good, you should disavow it. Google has an easy to use link disavow tool in their section for webmasters. Simply navigate to here in order to access it.
From here you can simply upload a .txt file with a list of domains you wish to disavow. Take extra care when crafting this list. You do not want to accidentally disavow any links which may be bringing your site value.
Encouraging good links: Another way of encouraging a healthy backlink profile is by encouraging healthy links. You can reach out to authoritative websites in your niche and encourage them to link to your website.
You can do this in a variety of ways – some will happily link to your site for free. Others will likely expect something in return – such as a link from your own website. It’s also not uncommon to offer up content in exchange for a link.
Tip 4 – Web Analytics Are Critical
You absolutely should be tracking every measurable piece of data from the very beginning. Ensure you take the time to properly configure Google Analytics & Google Search Console when you’re launching your website.
If you’ve already launched, don’t worry! you haven’t missed the bus, but ensuring you get your data tracking up and running as soon as possible will make things easier going forward. Data is the driving factor behind efficient SEO website design.
Data is honestly digital gold. Being able to see what pages are holding a users attention & what pages are causing users to bounce is unreal. Having this information means you can assess what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Once you have a firm grasp on what these things are, you can just emulate the good and make a conscious effort to avoid the bad.
There’s also a multitude of third party analytic software available on the internet. Tools such as crazy egg can generate heat maps that track mouse movements on page. This can give you an indicator of where specifically on a webpage a users attention is naturally drawn to.
Tip 5 – Craft Engaging Content In Your Niche
This is often easier said than done. Different niches have different levels of difficulty when it comes to drumming up content for them. Someone in the cooking niche can obviously churn out recipes, cooking guides and more with relative ease.
Someone who runs an office supply service may find things more difficult – but it’s not impossible. Keeping people updated on workplace laws, changes to regulations, general business news or updates on new office conveniences can be more than enough to stay relevant.
Regardless of your niche, you’ll be able to find something related closely enough that you’ll be able to consistently put out quality content. Content doesn’t always have to be written either, there’s nothing stopping you from producing your own video content and cross sharing to social media too. You could pay to get this video content transcribed and kill two birds with one stone.
If you’re writing content, ensuring it has an appropriate keyword density is a great way of ranking for appropriate search terms. For example, “best wine under £10” may get 600 searches a month. If you want to rank for this search term, this term has to appear in your content a few times. Not too often though – if you spout a keyword too often, Google considers this to be “keyword stuffing” and will kill your ability to rank for that term.
It may be difficult to find a wide category of topics to write about – you might even feel like you’re recycling the same content over and over again. This is a totally natural feeling, you can circumvent it by observing other successful websites in your niche. Get a feel for the broader scope of subjects and topics they may be covering.
Doing a little bit of keyword research can help you bring in more traffic to your website. Tools such as “keywords everywhere” are incredibly cheap and easy to use. They will pull in data on roughly how many searches a month a particular search term gets. This data will give you a rough idea on how likely you are to rank for a term and what returns you’re likely to see from it.
For example, a search term with 600 searches a month and poor competition is an ideal term to go after when you’ve just started your website. Subsequently, a search term with 12,000 searches a month and competition from industry titans isn’t something you’re going to be able to pull off at the start of your journey.
Competition is the key factor when you’re doing your keyword research. It’s entirely possible that you could find a high volume search term with poor competition. Millions of them likely exist. It’s also possible you will find a low volume search term with incredibly high competition. This tends to be more common amongst search terms that net high-ticket clients. Law is a prime example of this.
Tools such as AHREFS will allow you to take a close look at the domain rating of a website you’re competing with. This will give you an idea of how easy it will be to rank alongside them. If they’re a strong website with an insanely high domain rating and thousands of ‘healthy’ links, it might be time to move on to another search term.
This tip applies to both content creators and those who are simply looking to implement SEO website design strategies.
Tip 6 – Appropriate URL Structure
Another important thing to keep in mind when implementing SEO website design strategies is URL structure. URL structure can massively impact your sites ability to rank effectively for search engines. Clear and concise URL structures are good for a few reasons, namely:
- They make your URL easier to remember
- They look more professional
- They’re easier to type out
- Search engines favour them
You should take particular care to avoid URL structures that include dates. let’s say you have a website that sells fish tanks. let’s call it FishTankExpress. Let’s also say you write a longform piece of content about large, horizontal fish tanks.
What looks better to you? FishTankExpress.com/best-horizontal-fish-tanks vs FishTankExpress.com/Blog/100220
If your website covers a few different subcategories of content then it’s fine to categorise related information with your URL structure.
Domain/Category/Topic is a great way of doing this. Let’s say you run a fashion outlet and you’re crafting content about different items of clothing.
Domain/Jackets/Our-Favourite-Jackets-This-Fall is totally appropriate.
Just don’t add too many subcategories – this can cause your url to become too long. an example of this would be:
This domain is simply too much. apart from being an eyesore, it’s also difficult to remember and most of the data in it isn’t necessary. Obviously a jacket is a piece of clothing. Also obvious is the fact that a jacket is worn on the upper body.
Tip 7 – Take It Easy
This may seem somewhat ridiculous, but it’s entirely possible to over-engineer your website. SEO website design can feel like a minefield at first, but it gets easier. It’s possible to overthink and stress yourself out.
Google’s algorithm is complex and multifaceted. There are hundreds of ways to make your website more appealing to search engines. What you really need to ask yourself is this: “what are they really looking for?”.
Search engines are ultimately a business at the end of the day. They want their customers to be happy with their ability to provide them with reliable, good quality websites.
What do you look for in a website? What type of things would put you off using a website? If you can reliably ask and answer these questions to yourself you’re on the right track.
As long as you actively care about the user experience – and this is reflected in your website structure, site speed and site layout: you’re on the right track.
Thanks for reading!